Road crossing campaign steps up after yet another near miss
A DISABLED woman who received ‘another terrible fright’ as she tried to cross the A830 with her guide dog believes there are no excuses left to justify not installing a controlled crossing on the notorious road.
Banavie resident Annette Hobson, who is registered blind and has some trouble hearing, says she has been campaigning for a controlled crossing for 10 years. However, the issue came to the fore once more when she was involved in a near miss on the Fort William to Mallaig stretch near the swing bridge last week.
Ms Hobson said it is ludicrous that there is nothing to help pedestrians cross this road safely, but said the fact that work on the road was being carried out, disrupting the usual traffic flow, made the situation even more dangerous for her and her dog, Caramel.
She told The Oban Times: ‘I have some use of my eyes but I could not see any signs. The road should have been taped off to prevent people crossing. It really is a miracle nothing more serious has happened.
‘There is construction work under way to build stores in Fort William on North Road and my understanding is there will be a crossing put there, yet the road here and also near the Co- op in Corpach are notorious for pedestrians, but it seems BEAR and Transport Scotland don’t want to pay the money.’
The issue was again discussed at the Kilmallie Community Council (KCC) meeting on Monday January 23.
The KCC noted that they had still not received a response from BEAR Scotland with regard to a pedestrian survey that was carried out near the Banavie swing bridge last year.
Chairwoman Christine Hutchison said: ‘Annette is probably one of the most vulnerable people when crossing the road but this is an issue which affects lots of people.’
Sergeant Andrew Bilton was at the meeting and explained that the statistics covering how many accidents have happened in the area would need to be considered. He said: ‘Near misses are not recorded with us. People don’t contact us and say, “I was almost in an accident”.’
The community council also said that if cost is the reason why BEAR Scotland cannot put in a crossing, then it would need to look at other ways of funding one.
Emma Brown is an engagement officer with the Guide Dogs Association and she has been supporting Annette following the incident last week.
She told The Oban Times: ‘Controlled crossings provide a level of certainty about when it is safe to cross the road, particularly for people with sight loss. Guide Dogs Scotland supports the installation of a controlled crossing at Banavie to allow all residents, including those with sight loss and other disabilities, to access their local community safely.’
A spokesperson for BEAR Scotland told The Oban Times: ‘ We’re sorry to hear about Mrs Hobson’s experience last week. A squad was carrying out drainage works near Banavie swing bridge on the A830 on January 17.
‘The works involved a lane closure using temporary traffic signals. Signs were in place asking pedestrians to wait for a banksman at either end of the site. One of the team had noted Mrs Hobson with her guide dog and was running towards her to offer assistance when she attempted to cross. He assisted her after the incident. These works are now complete.
‘A study is currently being undertaken by Transport Scotland to look at pedestrian provision on this section of the A830. The study is expected to be completed over the coming few months. We’ll then be able to report on the findings to the local community.’
Annette Hobson with her dog Caramel beside the busy A830.